Your iPad® Classroom: 6 Mistakes to Avoid

By Lori Elliott, Ed.D.

Every day you seem to hear or read about a school or district that’s buying iPads for the classroom. This alone is an astonishing development. The iPad hasn’t been around all that long. And educators aren’t known for being early adopters of any technology.

Yet, it’s easy to explain the device’s popularity. It’s small, affordable, easy to use, and portable. It’s engaging and exciting for students. It adds a new dimension of fun to learning. For those reasons alone, it’s here to stay, you can bet on that. Yet the speed at which it is being brought into classrooms can be overwhelming. Especially for teachers who have to figure out how to turn it into a legitimate, integrated, and successful learning tool.

Here are 6 common mistakes teachers make and how to avoid (or correct) them in your classroom:

  • Mistake #1: Treating the iPad like “another gadget.” It’s not. It has the power to transform your teaching and your students’ learning. Whether you have only one device for 20 students or you’re lucky enough to have an iPad for each learner, you need to respect and take advantage of all it can do.
  • Mistake #2: Not using the iPad for higher-level learning. If all kids do is click and play games, then iPads are a waste. The iPad is the perfect tool for building 21st century skills, like thinking, collaborating, speaking, and analyzing. Don’t underestimate it!
  • Mistake #3: Using just any app because it’s free. There is no shortage of apps for the elementary classroom. There are thousands and thousands... free and paid... for math, reading, science—every content area. And more are coming out as we speak. Is your head swimming yet? Figuring out what an app can do, how it fits into your instruction, and whether it’s worth your time (and in some cases money) is a must.
  • Mistake #4: Wasting your time on one-shot apps. You don’t want, say, a phonics game app you can’t use any other way. In choosing one-shot apps, you limit the endless range of possibilities with the iPad. You want apps you can use every day, across the content areas, with multiple grade levels.
  • Mistake #5: Pulling out the iPad every once in a while. The iPad is the most fun, exciting, and useful when it is seamlessly integrated into your lessons and a part of your everyday routine.
  • Mistake #6: Not knowing how to project your iPad display to your classroom projector. There are reliable—and not so reliable—ways to do this. Plan ahead so your instruction is not interrupted by a technology glitch.

With the iPad, there are so many possibilities and directions you can go. Let’s put iPads in the hands of teachers who avoid these and other common mistakes and understand how students learn best.

For more exciting ideas for using the iPad in your classroom, check out SDE’s webinar Classroom Tech Part 1: iPad Integration, Tips, and Tricks with the Accidental Techie (Grades K–3) by author and educational technology expert Lori Elliott, Ed.D.

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